Costa Mesa City Council to File Injunction against Motor Inn for Redevelopment Plan

Luxury ApartmentCosta Mesa Motor Inn’s plan to redevelop into luxury apartments has been the subject of criticism as well as a target of legal challenges from advocates of affordable housing.

The owner, Miracle Mile Properties, already began the process of evicting residents of the mostly vacant motel. Meanwhile, the Costa Mesa City Council will appeal a preliminary injunction against their proposal for redevelopment.

Residents’ Eviction

Miracle Mile Properties released their redevelopment plan to replace the 236-room Motor Inn with a four-story luxury apartment building with 224 units — an initial part of which is the eviction of motel residents.

Last January, the affordable housing advocacy group The Kennedy Commission, together with several Motor Inn residents, filed a case claiming the city’s approval of the plan circumvented state law. They alleged city officials worked for years to close down motels which some considered as low-income housing.

In addition, the advocacy group stated that Miracle Mile has an obligation to help their residents by either finding shelter or providing them with financial assistance. Hence, they are, according to Kennedy Commission director Cesar Covarrubias, “trying to figure out a way to make sure these residents receive the benefits and opportunities that they are entitled to.”

Injunction and Relocation

Last June 22, Judge Robert O’Brien of the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction on the redevelopment plan until Miracle Mile implements a valid replacement and housing relocation assistance program for evicted residents. Furthermore, he said that it must be in line with state law.

Attorney Ellia Thompson, a representative of Miracle Mile, challenged this injunction with the argument that state law only applies when there is a public project or program.

On another note, she said that the company has paid several dozen residents relocation packages ranging from $6,000 to $8,000 — some of them used the money to rent a new apartment or purchase a condominium. But while Miracle Mile set aside 20 units of the proposed redevelopment project for moderate-income earners, Thompson said that they “don’t have any obligation to provide affordable housing.”

In a ruling on July 29, Judge O’Brien said that Miracle Mile Properties did not violate the preliminary injunction by issuing a 60-day notice for residents to vacate the Motor Inn. They gave residents until August 15 to clear out the 236-room motel.

Current State

In a closed session, the Costa Mesa City Council voted 3-2 to appeal the ruling issued against the project back in June. While Miracle mile can continue with their efforts to relocate and vacate tenants before structure demolition, the order effectively prevents them from moving ahead with the redevelopment plan.

City spokesman Tony Dodero said that the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside will hear the case and that they look forward to this being resolved soon.

They haven’t determined a hearing date yet, however.